About a week ago, in mid-July, Netflix unceremoniously dropped an original documentary into my Top Picks for You category. The film, Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru, is just shy of two hours and follows motivational speaker Tony Robbins through a six-day event called Date with Destiny that he and his huge staff host in various places around the world. Participants, for the low, low price of $5,000 for the week attend workshops, group sessions, and lectures given by Robbins himself as they attempt to transform their life from whatever place they currently find themselves in to a new and better place of strength, courage, fulfillment, peace, or what have you. Over the course of the documentary, a handful of attendees are focused on and given epilogues after the fact with mostly positive results reported. I put the documentary on one afternoon almost on a dare/whim and left it run out in the background of my day. I had had very little exposure to Tony Robbins in the past, save purchasing on the cheap through iTunes a series of The Edge audio books that I tired of somewhat quickly, as they felt more like infomercials promoting more expensive content. But this movie, even half-listening, felt more like the real deal, and I found myself getting occasionally wrapped up in Tony’s interventions and interviews. So I determined to sit down and focus on the whole thing straight through. And I’m glad I did.
Over the course of the two hours the film focuses on, among others, a suicidal young man, a woman in a dysfunctional relationship, another with “Daddy issues,” and another woman raised and abused in a sex cult. Each interaction/intervention with Tony Robbins proves tough to harsh, profane, emotionally super-charged, and ultimately, very strangely, loving in that “I’m kicking your ass for your own good” kind of way. Each segment is full of hugs, confrontations, and tears, and I found myself deeply moved by many moments in both viewings. I had never witnessed anything quite like Tony Robbins style of self-care: a hyper-steroid induced blend of Iyanla Vanzant, Caroline Myss, and Dr. Phil, but seemingly, almost inexplicably, grounded in the most loving and compassionate of philosophies.
In so much of what Tony Robbins said I could hear my own self-appointed guru, the late Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, saying to these people, albeit in a far more in your face and deliberately vulgarized way.
You are a part of God
You are worthy of love
You are the story you tell yourself you are
Wayne’s way was one of patience, quiet, gentleness, introspection, and meditation on poetry and seminal texts. Tony’s is loud, jarring, abrupt, profane, immediate, and definitely “not in your head.” But both at their core seem to advocate for positive change, personal responsibility, God realization, and an acceptance and embracing of love, both from self and others, that we often feel we are unworthy of receiving. Like two radio stations that play Pop music, Wayne’s focus was on power ballads, while Tony’s plays upbeat dance and techno, but both men seem tuned into the same frequency, Source, themes, and intentions.
The one-year anniversary of Wayne Dyer’s death is fast approaching. He died of a heart attack in his sleep on August 29th of 2015. My heart has maintained a gaping void since then that has yet to be filled by the passing of a man who I studied and read voraciously for sixteen years, heard speak in person three times, and credit his teachings with salvaging my own imploding life in the early 2000s. The facts that I just finished reading Memories of Heaven, Wayne’s last posthumously published book, and that two of Wayne’s daughters claimed in a recent online interview that Wayne continues to guide their lives from beyond, are both comforting and helpful in maintaining my love and interest in my late guru’s work. But I’m just not sure that after sixteen years of meditative study and dedication that it’s not time to turn up the volume, get tough on my life, and join the dance party. So I’ve been asking myself for a week now, and I would at least ask you to consider asking the same question:
Tony Robbins: Are You My New Guru?
I think I know my answer. What about you?
Watch the movie on Netflix, if you can, and share your thoughts with me.